Story Shop is celebrating its tenth anniversary at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this year. A showcase for new writing and new writers from Edinburgh, it is produced by Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, and takes place daily â€“ free and un-ticketed â€“ in the iconic Spiegeltent.Â Each ten-minute slot features a new writer reading their own piece of fiction, specially written for the performance.
Let me say at the outset â€“ this feature is in no way impartial because I am â€“ delighted (yet still somewhat bemused) to say I am one of those lucky authors. However, I like to think I would have written this anyway: Story Shop is a great initiative for writers Â – goes without saying; it’s THE book festival! – and for readers. After all, a good story read out live (for free), withÂ a drink, Â a cake, and a sit down in the Spiegeltent – whether itâ€™s raining down on you or roasting you alive outside…whatâ€™s not to like?
By the end of this yearâ€™s festival, this Emerging Local Writers Programme will have seen more than 150 Story Shoppers of the Day. Initially the Story Shoppers entertained the public at the festivalâ€™s book shop tent until n 2011 the popular event moved to the bigger Spiegeltent and it has remained a firm â€˜free at 3pmâ€™ fixture on the book festivalâ€™s daily programme.
Ali Bowden, Director of Edinburgh City of Literature Trust says: â€˜We love Story Shop and are immensely proud of all the writers whoâ€™ve taken part over the years. The Book Festival puts a lot of time and energy into supporting the writers because we all realise, we wouldnâ€™t be a City of Literature without the new writers breaking through.Â Itâ€™s always amazing to hear the writers read their work, to see the audience enjoying the stories. To be honest though, the moment I love most about Story Shop is when we hand the writer their lanyard for the Authorsâ€™ Yurt, that hallowed ground, and on their laminated pass from the worldâ€™s biggest book festival of its kind it says â€˜Authorâ€™.â€™
One of this yearâ€™s participants, Jonatha Kottler, who read â€˜A Strangerâ€™s Four Seasons of Edinburghâ€™ on Sunday 14th, probably sums it up for all the writers when she adds: â€˜Story Shop has given me a home among amazing fellow writers and the voice to say that I am a writer, too. Itâ€™s an extraordinary, nurturing experience.â€™
This yearâ€™s â€˜Edinburgh 17â€™ are, as they have been every year, a highly eclectic and talented band of authors. Half way through the programme, the Spiegeltent has resonated with stories that will make you laugh and make you want to cry â€“ either way, youâ€™ll go home thinking about them long after the ten minute performances.
So far, weâ€™ve had tea with Audrey Hepburn, been to Tombstone, Arizona with a young man called Billy, discovered the bonds between brother and sister, been on roller skates, discovered the power of salsa dancingâ€¦ Where we go next week, remains to be seen.
Story Shop performances are streamed live online, so if you canâ€™t make it to the Spiegeltent, you can still get a front-row seat. By way of the Edinburgh City of Literature website or the Periscope app, you can see the performances or read them â€“ and learn about the authors too. Whatever way you do it, itâ€™s ten minutes of pure magic â€“ and an introduction to local authors whom you are bound to hear from again!
Story Shop runs daily at 3pm in the Spiegeltent, Edinburgh International Book Festival. Until Monday 29th August.
For information on the event, the daily programme and the authors, go to: Â http://www.cityofliterature.com/story-shop/story-shop-2016/
Previous Story Shoppers who have been featured in Lothian Life include:
Olga Wojtas www.lothianlife.co.uk/2015/06/words-with-olga/Â
and Catherine Simpson www.lothianlife.co.uk/2015/09/truestory-catherine–simpson/